SNAP, Spectacles, and the Social Media App Clone Wars

February 21, 2017 - 2 minutes read

SNAP, the IPO from social media platform SnapChat, is set to arrive sometime in the next few weeks. SnapChat, for their part, has been pulling some odd moves around the launch, setting the valuation lower than most Bay Area app developers expected. The company also seems keen to prove to investors that they can and will be more profitable, and to that end have pulled the much-hyped Spectacles product from exclusive vending machines and made them available online for general orders. (The price is set at $129.99, and product ships within the month.)

The move to push Spectacles out of the early adaptor crowd also could be a response to the brand’s loss of user growth thanks to Instagram’s Stories clone, a heavy hit that swiped back users less attached to the SnapChat platform (let’s be honest — older users). Combining both ephemeral and personal-brand oriented social image and video content into one platform offers significant value for many users, while SnapChat is more of a one-trick pony, with no equivalent to Instagram’s feed and profile setup. For diehard users, this is a good thing — for soaking up advertising revenue, however, it’s not quite so ideal from a bottom-line perspective. They aren’t the first iPhone app developers to run into this struggle between loyalty to concept and need to monetize, and seeing how the play that out — particularly with publicly traded stock on the line — will be fascinating.

One thing SnapChat does have going for them is the circular video format. Now that Instagram has copied the vertical tap-to-proceed video format SnapChat popularized, circular video coming from their Spectacles product could prove a unique distinguishing features. Practically, it doesn’t matter what orientation video is consumed in, making it friendlier to repurposing for social media influencers using multiple social media platforms.

While the company admits that Spectacles will consume more money than they’re likely to make from it, the ultimate product among unicorn app developers is the social significance of their product. Will SnapChat ride out an IPO and feature theft? Only time will tell.

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